I stopped shooting film in early 2005. It’s a good thing, too, because I ran out of shelf space for the notebooks that hold my extensive image library. Now I’m filling multiple terabytes of hard drive space, but at least the images don’t risk getting dusty on the shelves.
This month I’ve been going through one small part of my collection, weeding out the boring, pruning the least-good of the exposures, and consolidating into fewer pages and fewer notebooks. The photo above shows just a small part of the hundreds of slides I’ve tossed in the trash can.
I’m up to late 1997 with my editing of the Forests collection. I find I’m keeping just about half of the slides I originally filed.
How do I decide what to keep and what to toss? First, everything that’s been published gets kept. Anything that hasn’t even been out to a publisher in 14 years is a good candidate to toss, a few sentimental images excepted. In between are the excess multiple bracketed exposures I originally kept.
When film ruled, often all three 1/3-stop brackets were good enough to send out to an editor and there were many occasions when all three copies were out at once. Now that most submissions are digital there’s no need to keep three copies. Two is plenty. One might be enough, but I’m not willing to prune that hard just now. Reducing my files by one third to one half is good enough.
Pruning my files is tedious. At the same time it’s kinda fun to put pages of slides on the light table again. Lots of fond memories of photo trips come back in the process. I can see where I was really inspired and where I just couldn’t find my muse. It’s harder to edit digital images the same way.
Will I make it through the whole library this winter? No way. There are too many thousands of slides to review. I want to get through Forests. That will be enough for now.